Cranberry Loaf

My friend Julie emailed me this recipe a few years ago.  I never got around to making it.  I had never been fond of cranberries.  I had bought some Craisins for my son and have been snacking on them lately.  I was looking through my recipes and came across this recipe and thought I would give it a try.  My changes were to replace the melted butter with oil.  I also reduced the cranberries and omitted the almonds.  I don't like nuts in baked goods.  This was super easy and quick to make.  It would go great with a cup of tea.

Apple Cake

My mom gave me a bunch of apples and I had to think of something to do with all of them.  I came across this recipe at Smitten Kitchen.  It looked delicious and very simple to make.  There was no butter...HURRAY!!!  When the timer went off my baby was napping and so I quickly went to turn the timer off but unfortunately I turned the oven off at the same time.  The cake wasn't done and I didn't realize what I had done until 15 minutes later.  So my cake ended up being overbaked at the bottom.  But I know that if I had not done that it would have been perfect because this is a Smitten Kitchen recipe.  I didn't have any orange juice but I had Mandarins so I juiced that until I got 1/4 cup. 

Green Beans with Balsamic Roasted Shallots

I love finding new recipes for vegetables.  At first I was nervous making this because I'm not a big fan of onions and this recipe had big chunks of shallots.  But I ended up really like this.  The shallots was nice and sweet and I was wishing I had added more.  This was such a nice change from from all the spicy Indian food we eat.

This recipe is from Cookin Canuck.  I didn't make any changes to it.   When serving you should arrange the beans and then pour the shallots on top but I was lazy and just mixed it all in the pot.

Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp

I have a problem...I make all these recipes with flavors that I am not used too and then when I taste it I'm expecting the traditional flavors I always have and am disappointed..until I get over it.  Like when I made the Lemon Baked Pasta...I have always made tomato based sauces for my pasta.  So when I bit into the Lemon Baked Pasta I was expecting tomato..I doesn't make sense.  Again when I made this shrimp dish I wasn't expecting the orange flavor even though I put the orange juice in.  After I got over my sub-conscious expectations I really started to like this. 

This recipe uses Old Bay Seasoning.  This can be a little tough to find in Canada. I found mine at Longo's in the seafood section.  This is a really quick dish to put together.  My main change was to reduce the butter and replace it with oil.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

When I was working for a consulting company my friend Julie and I would love to go out to eat.  We would usually go out for Dim Sum but one time we went to a Vietnamese restaurant where I had these spring rolls for the first time.

These spring rolls are so light and refreshing.  I hadn't had them since that first time and then when I got married my husband and I went to Ottawa for a weekend.  We had dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant one night and ordered these spring rolls.  My husband loved them.  They are so simple and easy to make.  With a few tips from Julie, I started to make them at home.  I haven`t made these for awhile.  A couple of weeks ago I found Brown Rice Vermicelli noodles at Longos and thought about those spring rolls I used to make.  I love how the noodles are made from brown rice...add some fiber to the meal.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I am really enjoying all these pasta dishes from The Pioneer Woman.  I always thought making pasta sauces from scratch would be so time consuming but I was wrong.  This is a really easy pasta to make.  I liked it like this but next time I think i'm going to try to make it spicy.  It came together very quickly.  The original recipe said to roast your own peppers but I don't have that kind of time so I bought a couple of jars of roasted peppers.  I substituted low fat sour cream for the heavy cream.  This would taste even better with the heavy cream but I'll pass on all that fat.  My mom had this pasta.  She really liked it and she isn't a big fan of pasta.

Porcini and Cremini Mushroom Orzo "Risotto"

I have always wanted to try to make risotto but have always been so scared too.  It seemed like way too much work.  The first time I had it was at 3 Guys and a Stove in Collingwood, ON.  I had the mushroom risotto and it was amazing.  I loved that restaurant.  Everything I had there was so good and can't wait to go there again.  The second time I had risotto was at a big fancy restaurant and it was horrible.  So reminded me of gulati and it made gulati taste amazing.  (Gulati is something my mom would make if someone had diarrhea.  You cook basmati rice in a bunch of water and keep cooking until it's mush and then add some butter, salt and pepper).  After having that bland risotto I thought  I could cook better than this.  I found this recipe at Cookin' Canuck.  It looked so simple.  It wasn't traditional risotto but I wanted to give it a try.  The first time I made it it was a little bland for us so the next time I increased the onions, garlic and porcini mushrooms.  I only like to use whole wheat pasta so it took some searching to find whole wheat orzo and luckily at the same store I found porcini mushrooms.  Next time I would like to try it with arborio rice.  My four year old made a face as soon as he tried it since he doesn't like mushrooms but my 1 year old gobbled it up!

Baked Lemon Pasta

This is another simple pasta dish. It's very refreshing and I love the use of sour cream instead of heavy cream. It is such a nice change from the tomato based sauces.  If you would like just a hint of lemon add less.  If you would like a more powerful zing add the entire half a lemon.

My main change was to replace the butter with oil and use low fat sour cream.  I used Farro Fusilli but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand.

Rice Krispie Treats without Gelatin

I love Rice Krispie Treats.  When we were small and had no clue what gelatin was we used to make them at home.  Then we found out gelatin was from pigs and no longer could we make them.  A few years ago halal marshmallows became widely available and I was so happy thinking I could make Rice Krispie Treats again..but I was wrong.  They turned out so hard and chewy.  The halal treats you can buy just don't taste the same.  The other day I remember my cousin mentioning her mother in law uses marshmallow cream to make Rice Krispie Treats since they don't have any gelatin.  So the next day I headed to Wal-Mart to pick some up and some Rice Krispies.  This is another easy recipe with only 3 ingredients.

These turned out to taste just like the Rice Krispie Treats we used to eat as kids...HURRAY!!!  They are super easy to make and are great for getting small kids to help.  My son loved pouring in the Rice Krispies while I mixed.

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

Recently we had a small gathering catered by Simply Halal.  The food was amazing.  The pasta in particular was so good.  We ate it for the following 2 days and I didn't get bored of it.  I realized how I suck at making pasta.  For years I've been making my mom's pasta sauce and I've gotten bored of it.  Lately I have been looking at The Pioneer Woman blog.  I've already tried a few recipes with great success.  So I started to take a look at her pasta recipes.  Why does she use so much cream and butter?????  I'm not trying to put on 20 pounds.  If I used that much fat my cooking would improve no doubt...but I have modified her recipes to reduce the fat with good results so I have hope for her pasta dishes too.  This recipe had no cream or butter!! Yeah!!! But it had a ton of parmesan cheese which I significantly reduced. It also used 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. There was no way I could use 1 cup of oil!!!  I don't think I use 1 cup of oil to make a huge pot of could I use that much oil for a pasta salad!!  So I reduced it by half and was so glad I did.  I think it would have been way to greasy if I hadn't.  Also I don't like olives so I left those out and after making this recipe I realized I don't like cherry tomatoes either so next time I'm gonna leave those out too.  My 4 year old son loved this pasta and for him I added a bunch of olives..I like to say he is eating olives with a little bit of pasta because he likes A LOT of olives.

This recipe also has red wine vinegar.  I looked up on SunniPath if it was permissable to use vinegars that are alcohol based and it was okay.  I had bought the red wine vinegar but I was still feeling nervous about using something that had the word 'wine' in it.  So I looked it up again to ease my conscious.

This recipe was good hot or cold and I'm definitely going to make it again.  I used my immersion blender to blend all the ingredients which wasn't a very good idea because there wasn't a lot of space.  A blender would be a better way to go but I hate using the blender.  It's too noisy and would wake a napping 1 year old baby so I avoid using it.

Sameena's Chickpea Mango Salad

A while ago my cousin sent me a recipe for this salad.  I wanted to try it because of the mix of sweet and savory but I never had all the ingredients around.  I recently went to my parents and when mangoes are in season they give me a big bag of them.  I had some peppers and I just needed to go buy some jalapenos to make this salad.  I had to make some changes because Sameena is American and in America you get 15 oz cans of in Canada we get 19 oz cans.  So my change was simply to double the dressing and I also added salt.  We really liked this salad.  I loved the sweetness of the mango. 

I know my son would have loved it but he was being a stubborn 4 year old at the time and didn't want to try it.  Next time I would add some more mango and jalapeno. I couldn't really taste the jalapeno.

Simple Fresh Green Beans

I'm always looking for ways to add vegetables to dinner.  I found this really simple bean recipe at The Pioneer Woman.  With Indian cooking we have so many spices that it seems like it's not possible to make something taste good without a page long list of spices.  So it's so nice to find a recipe that tastes good and is so simple.  I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. 

Chapli Kebob

Pictured updated January 25, 2013 (Taken for Pita Break Review)
We asked my son where he wanted to go for his 4th birthday dinner.  He chose Bamiyan Kabob and he was going to eat Chapli Kebob.  He loves the Chapli Kebob there.  It's so spicy but it doesn't stop him.  I'm not that fond of it.  Everytime we order it I have to try it to check maybe there is something I'm missing...but I do love these chapli kebobs.  There are very easy to make.  My mom watches Chef Rahat on TV and saw this recipe.  I thought the fried egg was an unusual addition but it adds a lot of flavor.  I made a couple of changes to the recipe.

Low-Fat Butter Chicken

One of our favorite dishes to eat at Indian restaurants is Butter Chicken.  One of the reasons it's so good is because it's loaded with fat...lots of butter and cream.  A long time ago I had searched the internet for a recipe for my mom.  It's good but doesn't taste anything like the butter chicken you eat out.  I've tried making a low fat version of that recipe by substituting evaporated milk for the cream and replacing some of the butter with oil but it wasn't successful.

I think you can cook great food without it being loaded with fat.  So the other day I was searching for recipes for butter chicken on Food Network Canada trying to find a recipe that was healthier than the all the butter chicken recipes I've seen.  I came across 2 recipes: Sahara Restaurant's Butter Chicken and The Better Butter Chicken by Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.  I liked the spices in Sahara Restaurant's recipe but the amount of fat seemed insane.  Eat, Shrink and Be Merry's recipe had significantly reduced the fat but the spices didn't seem right.  So I combined the 2 recipes.  The results were great.  It had the butter chicken taste I was looking for and a lot less fat.  This dish tastes best with naan.  Now you can find naan in the bread section of many grocery stores.  You can also get frozen naan at the Indian grocery store.

Baked Samosas

I love samosas..who doesn't?  But I hate the idea of heating up a ton of oil and standing there deep frying them.  It's so time consuming.  So I was so excited when I saw a recipe for Baked Samosas on Aarti Paarti.  It looked so simply and so fast to make.  I had never heard of ajwain seeds.  My mom had some so I took some for her to try it out.  It gave the samosas such a wonderful aroma.  I didn't make the mango chicken chipotle filling Aarti did because it seemed like too much work, my husband doesn't like chipotle and I was scared of what those flavors combined would taste like.  So I just did a potato and pea filling.  You could put any filling you want inside.  For the dough I didn't have a couple of the ingredients...cake flour and buttermilk.  For the cake flour I used all-purpose but just used less.  For the buttermilk I substituted yogurt.  I've also made these using plain old 2% milk and they turned out good.  The filling posted below is for double the dough recipe.

Note: My cumin-coriander powder is 1 part cumin to 1.5 part coriander.

Cookie Dough Truffles

After attempting Oreo Truffles I wanted to try to make some Cookie Dough Truffles.  I love cookie dough.  My favorite ice cream at Laura Secord is Cookie Dough.  I used margarine instead of butter because I didn't have any unsalted butter and wanted to reduce some of the fat.  I was making the cookie dough at night when both the boys were asleep.  I was scared they might wake up from the noise the mixer was making so I didn't cream the margarine and brown sugar enough.  The dough ended up being a little grainy.  These were very easy to make. I like the method of using a toothpick to dip the cookie dough in the chocolate and the garnish hides any hole at the top the toothpick leaves.  From the reviews I got these were really good but the Oreo Truffles were better.

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